fight for the top 50

Is Star Wars: Battlefront One Of The Top 50 Games Of 2015?

by Matthew Kato on Nov 26, 2015 at 04:00 AM

It's been another good year to be a gamer given all the great experiences we've played, but like every year there's a healthy debate as to which titles actually belong on our Top 50 games list. I've been having fun with Star Wars: Battlefront's easy, breezy take on online multiplayer combat, but plenty of gamers (GI's Reiner included) find Battlefront disappointing overall. Fellow editor Brian Shea has also played the game, and he and I discuss the title and whether Brian agrees that it's truly Top 50 material.

Kato: What were your expectations of Battlefront before you played it?

Brian: I was a big fan of the original Battlefront games – even though it's been a long time since I've played them. With that in mind, I was pretty excited about the prospects of a revival for the series. The shooter genre has evolved in so many ways since those games released. I was hoping for a mix of old and new while scratching that itch for some good ol' Star Wars action.

Kato: I actually never thought I'd play this game that much, and frankly wasn't sure I'd enjoy it. Full disclosure: I'm not a good first-person shooter guy, to say nothing of doing it in an online/competitive environment. So I was pretty surprised when I was spending more and more time playing it, getting sucked in by its pick-up-and-play nature and the way it nailed the Star Wars vibe – especially since it's not a deep game at all.

Brian: Yeah, I think DICE did a really good job of keeping the gameplay accessible and providing a good mix of different modes. That said, I think you're right in saying there isn't a ton of depth to both the gameplay and the number of maps available. Also, while I'm a pretty big fan of the survival missions, I think Battlefront could have benefitted from having a dedicated single-player mode even if it was nothing more than a loosely strung together narrative over the course of multiplayer-style matches with bots.

Kato: At first I wanted a better single-player segment too, but the game's casual, no-stakes, drop-in/die-out nature make it so I'm just kind of living and dying in the moment. Life is cheap in Battlefront, and I kind of like it that way. I'm not obsessing over loadouts, character progression, and all that stuff. Just fire and forget. What multiplayer modes did you like?

Brian: I think it's safe to say that the go-to mode when it comes to the online multiplayer is Walker Assault. No mode does a better job of making you feel like you're actually in a Star Wars movie than that mode. I think Supremacy is a close second in that regard, plus it feels like a greater test of skill and teamwork. I love the tug-of-war that comes with a good match in Supremacy as you fight for control across a large map. As a big fan of the Rogue Squadron games, I also enjoyed Fighter Squadron since it hit on some of the same notes as that series. I also enjoyed my time with Drop Zone, Hero Hunt, and Heroes vs. Villains, but I don't think they have the same longevity as some of the bigger modes like Walker Assault and Supremacy.

Kato: For a game that we both admit doesn't have a lot of depth per se, it sounds like there were enough modes for you to play. I guess the basic way I approach this game is that I get enough out of it precisely because it's not asking a ton from me. While I mainly play Supremacy and Walker Assault, as a casual player I can get a taste of team play without having to get yelled at in a traditional team-based shooter for not being good enough at a certain role. I mean, apart from not wanting to end up in last place each match, I don't even care that much about stats, because the fun is in the battles themselves not some level cap, skill tree, meta-system.

Brian: Yeah, you don't get the same level of brutal competition and teammates screaming "you suck!" if you end up in last place or with a terrible K/D ratio. And that's good, because the game definitely takes a decidedly casual approach with its gameplay. Unfortunately, I think that leaks into the number of maps, which is my biggest problem with Battlefront as a whole. Even though there are a bunch of modes to choose from, only four maps are available at launch for each one. We know more are on the way with the inclusion of the premium Season Pass (and limited free DLC), but it once again brings up the debate about how much value is delivered by a $60 purchase. How long does it really take for you to see all that Star Wars Battlefront has to offer without buying any additional DLC? To that point, what will happen once the paid DLC starts hitting the market and the community, which I predict will be dropping off by that point, starts fracturing due to different levels of monetary commitment? Battlefront is a blast to play, but I worry about the long game here.

Kato: You're absolutely right on that point. I think Evolve did a great job in letting everyone play the maps to avoid fracturing the community, but without that kind of model I don't see how Battlefront can avoid it. I don't see myself investing heavily in any DLC, so I'm definitely a guinea pig for how much replay value is really in the out-of-the-box maps. I think Battlefront is one of those games where you really have to weigh how much fun you have with it on a moment-to-moment basis versus how long you're going to play it for. Because you're never going to put as much time into it as you'd expect to do for The Witcher 3, for instance, but if at the end of the day I think I've had fun playing it, then I don't really second guess myself whether it's been worth it.

Brian's Verdict: I had a really good time with Battlefront, and the fact that it doesn't have a ton of content right off the bat can't take that away. I do, however, need to take that into account when thinking about the game as a whole. Even with that factored in, though, I think that Star Wars Battlefront delivers on enough fronts to include it in our top 50 games of 2015. If it had more content or if free updates were promised along the lines of what Splatoon did this year, Battlefront would be ranked much higher. As it stands, it's an awesomely fun, accessible, and action-packed shooter that doesn't have the staying power of other shooters released this year – but should still have a longer shelf life than the aforementioned Evolve. With that in mind, I think it probably can sneak into the bottom half of our top 50 list for this year.